Janet D. Kwami, associate professor of communication studies, is Furman’s 2021 SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award recipient.
Each year, the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) recognizes and celebrates outstanding professors through the Excellence in Teaching Award program. A member of the faculty from each of the 20 members institutions is selected, using criteria determined by each institution.
Kwami, a member of the Furman faculty since 2009, holds a Ph.D in communication and society from the University of Oregon. She earned her M. Phil. in communication from the University of Ghana, and her B.A in publishing studies from the University of Science and Technology in Ghana.
Kwami teaches in the areas of media studies and digital communication technologies. Her courses include Media and Society, Digital Storytelling, International Communication, Advanced Multimedia Storytelling, Lenses on Africa, Media Criticism, Mass Media Research Methods, and Student ePortfolio Workshop.
Kwami is known as a professor who demands excellence from her students. She uses high-impact teaching strategies to support them in meeting the high standards she sets. Engaging critical discussions, creative assignments, extensive feedback and endless encouragement are signature teaching strategies she has used effectively to motivate her students to exceed even their own expectations. Evidence of her teaching success is seen by the selection of her students’ original research for presentation at state, national, and international conferences, and she works diligently to prepare students for these conferences. Notably, her students have presented three times at the International Association for Media and Communication Research, the preeminent worldwide professional organization for media and communication research. Kwami’s students were the only undergraduate presenters at the conference and were on the same panel as doctoral students and professors. In 2017, her excellence in teaching earned her Furman’s Meritorious Teaching Award.
Kwami has also been instrumental in innovating and expanding her department’s curriculum. She developed a new study away program to Ghana and created multiple new courses. She innovated the curriculum by creating the department’s first client-based course, Advanced Multimedia Storytelling. Although firmly grounded in theory, critical thinking and writing, this upper-level course introduced a professional component to the department’s curriculum. The course bridged students’ academic learning with career competencies. In so doing, Kwami enhanced students’ understanding of the value of academic and intellectual preparation for succeeding in their career pathways.
She mentors many international students formally and informally and is the founding adviser to Baba Africa, the African student society. She is known for her kindness and hospitality and has hosted many students in her home. Kwami researches in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), international communication, communication for social change, and media and African Diaspora.